Skip to main content

Google developing touch-friendly Chrome browser features in Canary beta

Taking a page from Microsoft's playbook, Google is reportedly prepping touch-friendly Chrome browser functions.

The latest Canary beta build includes a slide-to-navigate feature that lets users of the Chrome browser swipe left or right to move backwards or forwards in websites, the Verge reported this week.

The feature, according to the report, is almost identical to Microsoft's touch capabilities in Internet Explorer 10 for Windows 8-powered mobile devices.

Google's reported touch interface additions also include a pinch-to-zoom option, identified by the "enable pinch scale" label in the Chrome Canary files cited by the website. Though more experimental than the swipe navigation function, the feature works as it would on any touch-enabled device.

Chrome for Windows 8 users will also have access to the onscreen keyboard via a tap of the address bar or text box, the tech site said.

These new features could come in handy with Google's new touchscreen Chromebook Pixel laptop, and on any of Microsoft's touch-friendly Windows 8 tablets and convertibles.

While Canary is available to the public for Windows XP, Vista, 7, and 8, Google recommends that only early adopters and developers should download the still-unstable browser.

Everyday testers using the Stable channel won't see the new features until they are thoroughly vetted for stability and usability. There is no guarantee everything tested in Canary will see the light of day beyond testing.

"We're always experimenting with new features, but have nothing new to share at this time," a Google spokesperson said.

The search giant has been working to add touch features to its browser for more than a year, and in June 2012 introduced support for what was then known as Windows 8 Metro, which initially came with charms and snap view.

These new additions, however, could help better integrate Chrome into modern hardware.